Officially dubbed “CronutGate” in the Food Republic office, the incident is still brought up from time to time to remind me of my naiveté as a young and oblivious food writer. It was August 2013 and, armed with days off from our jobs, my friend and I had formulated a plan to obtain the mythical croissant-doughnut hybrid from French pastry maestro Dominique Ansel that was taking the city by storm. I am, of course, talking about the one and only Cronut™. A day of misery followed, as we waited a full five hours…to receive the dubious honor of being the first two customers to miss out on that day’s supply. I wrote about our minute-by-minute experience in line, shining a comedic light on an otherwise complete dud of a day.
What happened the Monday following that fateful summer morning is something I’ve kept under wraps for the past two and a half years — partly due to a lack of closure and partly due to my sheer embarrassment. I received an email from one Dominique Ansel informing me that he had come across my story and would happily send me a whole box of Cronuts. He asked for some of my favorite flavors as well as some general dislikes, in addition to an address for delivery. I replied excitedly via a long-winded email full of praise (read: ass-kissing) and personal preferences.
The email that arrived a few hours later from Ansel sent absolute chills down my spine. “You must be joking to ask me to send to what is obviously your home address,” it began. “Who do you think I am? Your personal baker? Your servant on call to create fantastic pastries for you and your friends?” I sat there in stone-cold silence, rereading each and every word, truly believing that I had somehow gravely insulted New York City’s most celebrated pastry chef.
It was not until several agonizing minutes later that I first heard the stifled laughter of the entire Food Republic staff around me. They had pulled off the ultimate prank, creating an email address (DominiqueAnselNYC@gmail.com) for the entire interaction, with the sole purpose of depriving my sweet tooth and — worse yet — toying with my emotions. The realization that I would not, in fact, be sent a personalized package of Cronuts was secondary to the fact that I was — then and there — the absolute laughingstock of the office. I’ve been stealthily plotting my revenge ever since, sometimes pulling up the email just to remind myself of my colleagues’ deceit.
So why bring all this up nearly three years later, when you’d think the Cronut would be a mere footnote in New York City food-craze history and my pride fully restored? Well, people are still lining up for the Cronut, for one, and my pride is not fully restored, for another. I did, however, receive some sort of closure when I had the opportunity to chat with Ansel himself at a press event last week, during which he unveiled his newest hybrid item, a limited-edition Korean French Dip sandwich, and I revealed my shameful history with the pastry.
His reaction to the elaborate scheme? Right along the same lines as yours, probably. A touch of sympathy upon my mentioning the fruitless five-hour wait, a heightened level of curiosity upon my describing the ensuing email exchange and utter, knee-slapping laughter upon hearing my delivery of the punch line. I can’t say that it was the exact reaction I had hoped for (that would have involved his begging for forgiveness before magically producing and sharing a box of Cronuts with me), but there was something about his putting a hand on my shoulder and proclaiming it “one of the best Cronut stories [he’s] ever heard” that did provide some sort of closure.
And you know what? I’ll even try once more: Dear Dominique, I still haven’t tried a Cronut. Feel free to get in touch via email (but like, for realz, this time) to arrange a tasting at your convenience.